PlanningSucceedI’ve said it before — our current Year Two Arabic team is very pro-active. Never ones to sit back and wait for things to happen, they go out there and map their own path to success.

Case in point. My colleague Qjinti Oblitas has a segment in one of her courses entitled, “My Market”. It requires students to go out and research the landscape that awaits them after they graduate.

  • “What is the demand for my language combination?”
  • “What are potential sources of work for people in my booth?”
  • “What are the specific steps that I can take to get my career off the ground?”

These are all questions that students attempt to answer as part of this assignment. Our Arabic team tackled them head on.

SamanFirst up, the team invited Dr. Saman Abdulmajeed, Senior Interpreter at Al Jazeera, to join us remotely. He spoke about interpreting interviews and reports on live television. Most times, people are patched in via satellite link, via Skype, or even via the phone lines. As a result, as a media interpreter, you have to half expect the sound to drop at some point while you are working.

Just how do you cope with problematic audio? Dr. Abdulmajeed explained that, if you want to be a media interpreter, you have to use the same tools that other interpreters do. First off, you have to thoroughly research the people you are going to interpret, so that you are intimately familiar with their positions and points of view. Next, you need to use that intimate knowledge to anticipate how they are going to respond to questions.

[tweet_box design=”default”]Dr. Saman Abdulmajeed of @AJEnews: Media interpreting is not for the faint of heart.[/tweet_box]

Clearly, media interpreting is not for the faint of heart. But it is fascinating work. What’s more, events in the Middle East have been front and centre on the international stage for decades, so there is likely to be an ongoing demand for media interpreters with Arabic.

RaneenThe second guest of the evening was Ms. Raneen Saeed, who joined us in person. She is a free-lance interpreter who has worked in a number of markets, in both the Middle East and North America.

I found her descriptions of her time in the United Arab Emirates to be particularly compelling. Particularly before 2008, there was a massive building boom in the UAE, and this included the construction of massive conference facilities. In turn, the facilities attracted a large number of grand-scale events, all of which required interpretation. Now, gaining access to this interpreting work wasn’t always easy, Ms. Saeed pointed  out. Indeed, it required some careful networking with local agencies, potential clients, and other key stakeholders.

[tweet_box design=”default”]Ms. Raneen Saeed: Stay in touch with friends & classmates — networking leads to interpreting work.[/tweet_box]

In fact, networking was one of Ms. Saeed’s key messages. She encouraged all the students to think about the vast web of people who could potentially help connect you to interpreting work. Your interpreting classmates are an easy place to start. It’s important to stay in touch after you graduate, both with those who work in the same booth as you, and with those who don’t. But she also recommended that you think about other connections — for example, classmates from your undergraduate studies — who might be helpful in surprising ways.

ZyadIn addition to the guest speakers, we also heard from Arabic team members Ahmed and Zyad. They both took the floor to present some of the research they had done into their interpreting markets. For example, Ahmed reported on the conference centres that he would like to contact after graduation. For his part, Zyad spoke about the importance of engaging potential clients in creative ways — he then practiced what he preached by giving everyone present a mini lesson on Arabic.

And speaking of Arabic, the entire event took place in that language. So when Zyad and Ahmed weren’t on the floor, they took turns in the booth interpreting into English, so that the rest of us could follow along, and so that the other interpreting students could take relay. In this way, not only did we learn about a new interpreting market, our future interpreters also got another opportunity to practice and receive feedback.

These are just a few of the ways in which Glendon MCI students are already planning to succeed. Have you got a story about strategies for entering a new interpreting market? Be sure to share them with me using the comments field below.




2 responses to “What do you know about the market for Arabic?”

  1. Nicholas F says:

    I am so happy to hear of this experience, and I am so glad that Qjinti continues to offer this most insightful exercise to her students, as I found this exercise to be invaluable during my MCI 2nd year.
    I am definitely relieved that the first time I had to present a “bid” was not in the big wide world, but in the learning environment of the MCI lab–where it was summarily torn to shreds by our internal panel jury. Seriously though, the constructive feedback and experience was so helpful when actually going out to bid on and winning interpreting contracts and directing teams of MCI grads in the real interpreting world.
    So I’m sure the students know it, but it bears repeating: this exercise, while not directly related to your success on the exit exam, is directly tied to your success as a future interpreter, so give it your very best! You’ll be happy you did 🙂

    • Andrew Clifford says:

      Thanks for sharing this input, Nicholas. For sure, some of the things instructors do in the classroom don’t have a short-term pay-off. They don’t always prepare you for the Exit Exam, as you have pointed out.

      But that doesn’t mean they don’t benefit you in the long run. Glad you are now seeing the return on your “investment” in this way.

      As for “tearing to shreds”, sure, I know that not every moment in the program is happy. But I think you are right to point out that it is better to be criticized in the classroom than to fall on your face in the market.

      We want our students to leave the MCI with a clear plan. One that allows them to find opportunities quickly. I hope you felt, and still feel, equipped in this way.

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